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The Kashmir Issue

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This is one HOT topic and looking at the current state of things, GDs very well have a chance of having such a topic. Although because of religious strings, it might not be asked at all. Nevertheless, lets have a quick look at what Kashmir Issue really is and try to create an opinion on what could be done.

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For starters, the countries disputing in the territory of Kashmir are India, Pakistan, China and the Kashmiri people.

Facts

India claims the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir and as of 2010, administered approximately 43% of the region, including most of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley,Ladakh, and the Siachen Glacier. India's claim is contested by Pakistan, which controls approximately 37% of Kashmir, namely Azad Kashmir and the northern areas of Gilgit and Baltistan. China controls 20% of Kashmir, including Aksai Chin, which it occupied following the brief Sino-Indian War of 1962, and the Trans-Karakoram Tract (also known as the Shaksam Valley), which was ceded by Pakistan in 1963.

Why Kashmir is so much sought after is for its fertile and beautiful landscape, the innumerable number of rivers which originate in it and of course the extra territory it offers to both Pakistan and China.

The Views

  • India officially believes and states in international conferences that Kashmir is an integral part of India.
  • Pakistan has credited Kashmir as a disputed territory and says that its final status must be determined by the Kashmiri people.
  • China states that Aksai Chin is a part of Tibet, which is a part of China.
  • And finally, there are certain Kashmiri independence groups which feel that Kashmir should granted an independent status by both India and Pakistan.

A fragmented Kashmir on the Map

Kashmir Map

The History

Without going into the deep history of Kashmir, it would suffice to know that till the partition of India in 1947, Kashmir was ruled by the Hindu Maharajas, although the majority of the population were Muslim, except in the Jammu region. The last of these rulers was Hari Singh

During the time of partition in 1947, all the princely states in India were required to choose whether to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent. The State of Jammu & Kashmir under Hari Singh's rule was unclear whether it would accede to Pakistan or India and chose to remain independent initially. However, upon successive invasions from Pakistan to annex it, Hari Singh sought military aid from India and in return ceded the state of Jammu & Kashmir to India on 27 October 1947.

After a brief war in 1947-48, Kashmir was divided between Pakistan and India administered territories. A ceasefire line was agreed under UN Supervision, which has since been renamed the 'Line of Control'.

The Dispute

Kashmir's eventual accession to India became a matter of dispute between the two countries, with both India and Pakistan claiming ownership. The dispute mainly arose for 2 reasons.

1. Pakistan claimed (and continues to claim) that Hari Singh fled the Valley of Kashmir and hence he was not in control of his state and therefore not in a position to take a decision on behalf of his people. Indian sources however suggest that Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession before he left Srinagar but that the document was not made public until later. The date of the signing of the document has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan.

2.  Pakistan contested the accession of Kashmir, claiming it to be fraudulent, as there was already a standstill agreement with Pakistan on Kashmir in force. In such a scenario, Pakistan claims that Hari Singh had no right to sign an agreement with India.

Another reason for dispute is the Water. Kashmir is the origin point for many rivers and tributaries of the Indus River basin basin. These include the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej which flow into northern India and Jhelum and Chenab which irrigate Pakistan. Pakistan believes that in a dire need, India (under whose portion of Kashmir lies the origins and passage of these rivers) would withhold the flow and thus choke the agrarian economy of Pakistan. There was the Indus Waters Treaty signed in this regard in 1960 and it resolved most of these disputes. Pakistan, however, has raised concerns regarding building of dams on the Indian side which limit water flow to the Pakistani side.

Other Important Details

  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1172 accepts India's stand regarding all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan and urges the need to resolve the dispute through mutual dialogue and does not call for a vote or a ballot to decide where Kashmir should go
  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir was provided significant autonomy in Article 370 of the Constitution of India
  • According to the two-nation theory, which is one of the theories that is cited for the creation of India and Pakistan, Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, because of its Muslim majority. However, India does not accept this theory and continues to argue that Kashmir, despite being a Muslim-majority state, is in many ways an "integral part" of secular India
  • According to India, all differences between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir, need to be settled through bilateral negotiations as agreed to by the two countries when they signed the Simla Agreement on 2 July 1972
  • China did not (and does not) accept the boundaries of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu north of the Aksai Chin and the Karakoram that were proposed by the British and hence continues to occupy the region of Aksai Chin

End

Given the apparently irreconcilable territorial claims in Kashmir, there is no immediate end in sight to this conflict. Now that both India and Pakistan are in possession of nuclear weapons, the stakes in this conflict are of global significance. It can only be hoped now that a peaceful resolution take place.

Other Indo-Pak Disputes of interest

Siachen · Operation Brasstacks · Operation Rakshak · Kargil War · Atlantique Incident · Operation Parakram

Note on ‘Kashmir’: The UN refers to the disputed territory as ‘State of Jammu & Kashmir’. We have used just ‘Kashmir’, because of its wide recognition internationally. 

References: The Kashmir Observer, BBC, An Analysis of the Kashmir Issue by Smita Joshi, Wikipedia

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